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Portland Pipe Line has already transported diluted bitumen


May 15, 2013
SOUTH PORTLAND, Me. — The Portland Pipe Line (PPL) has already sent diluted bitumen — Alberta crude oil — through its pipes, from east to west.

This new information was learned as a result of an inquiry made to PPL president, Larry Wilson, who heads up the company that operates east-west pipelines paralleling Route 2 through five towns in northern New Hampshire.

The inquiry was sparked by word that reached New Hampshire last week that Wilson had testified in front of a state legislative committee in Maine that PPLC had already transported Alberta crude oil.

Since Wilson had made it clear when he spoke in Randolph to townspeople and residents from nearby PPLC towns that he is eager to provide information about the company's plans, which could in the future include transporting diluted bitumen, a.k.a. dilbit or "tar sands" oil from Alberta through Montreal to Portland Harbor, an e-mail inquiry was immediately e-mailed to him asking whether or not PPLC had, in fact, moved oil sands crude through the pipe line and, if so, who the customer was.

Wilson replied by saying that he had asked Edward S. O'Meara Jr., Managing Principal-Public Affairs of Garrand of Portland, to respond to the inquiry on behalf of PPLC and PMPL — the Portland Montreal Pipe Line.

"We have been in operations for over 70 years moving various types of light, medium and heavy crudes safely and reliably through our system," O'Meara replied. "PMPL moves crudes based on shipper requirements and all crudes must meet our strict quality standards and comply with the terms of our regulated tariff. Moreover, federal regulations require that the information related to shippers and our transportation of their crude is proprietary, and we are prohibited by law from disclosing detailed information to third parties. For this reason, in responding to your questions, we must simply state that we have moved limited volumes of Western Canadian crude through our system in past years in full compliance with our specifications, operating parameters, laws and regulations. The movements operationally were not distinguishable from similar crudes we have transported safely since 1941."

A follow-up inquiry to this statement was then e-mailed to O'Meara, "Was the oil that was sent east or southeast diluted bitumen or 'dilbit'?"

O'Meara's reply was unexpected, "The crude referenced was a diluted bitumen, but please note that the movement was from east to west, which has been PMPL's routine operation."

The five Coös towns through which the PPL runs, listed from west to east, are: Lancaster, Jefferson, Randolph, Gorham and Shelburne. Two pump stations are located in Coös, both on Route 2: one in Lancaster and the other in Shelburne.

In the interest of full disclosure, the land on which the pump station in Shelburne is located was taken by eminent domain in 1941 under a Presidential Proclamation issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This reporter's family lost their summerhouse — Endicott Farm — in this process.

PPL pipelines also run through her backyard in Randolph.

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